A proposal to develop new offices for homeless services is moving forward in the Tenderloin, but some community advocates say the city is keeping residents in the dark about their plans.
The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH) is circulating a proposal to renovate parts of 440 Turk St., currently owned by the San Francisco Housing Authority, to serve as offices and client-service space for its staff.
The city granted HSH authority to buy the property with funds from a $350 million bond intended to support improvements to facilities that provide medical and mental health services, including homeless on-site services.
As we previously reported, the HSH thought it was buying 40,000 square feet of space in the building, but later learned that parts of 440 Turk have been promised as office space to the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC), which owns and is rehabilitating 89 housing units in the building next door at 430 Turk St.
TNDC struck a deal to locate its offices in 15,000 square feet next door at 440 Turk, so the Housing Authority could keep its offices at 430 Turk St.
When HSH learned it would only have access to 25,000 square feet, it proposed using the smaller space in the building as a homeless services clinic and renting office space in SoMa. The shift in plans came without any real community outreach, say neighborhood advocates, and HSH’s two-part proposal was tabled by the Board of Supervisors in a September meeting.
New plans presented to the Capital Planning Committee (CPC) last week would see HSH spending $6.1 million for renovations and $1.7 million on fixtures, furniture, and equipment. The budget would support a new layout, ADA upgrades, the addition of an air conditioning system, and plumbing for new restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities.
To address community concerns about the use of bond funds for office space, HSH states that bond monies would go to 64 percent of the rehabilitation and purchase costs that are allocated to “client-serving space.”
“440 Turk will be the department’s headquarters,” said Randy Quezada, spokesperson for HSH. “We will have space for approximately 85 staff. On the first floor we will have space for staff to meet with clients and for clients to access our programs and services.”
But community concerns remain.
HSH “repeatedly said they needed to use the space for meetings,” said Randy Shaw, director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, which has opposed the city’s plans to create a homelessness services center at the site.
“Out of nowhere… [HSH] told the CPC that the site would provide showers and laundry services,” Shaw said. The provision of those services had never been mentioned to the community when HSH was doing outreach about its new plans for the site, he said.
“Since the site will not be occupied until April 2019, the final plans are likely still not fixed, but once again [HSH] has advanced a plan that few if any in the community knew anything about,” he told us.
HSH must present its new proposal to the Board of Supervisors for approval before proceeding.
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